Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused the IDF of carrying out attacks that “apparently amount to war crimes” during an 11-day war in May against the militant group Hamas.
The international human rights organization released its findings after investigating three Israeli airstrikes which it said killed 62 Palestinian civilians.
He said “there were no obvious military targets near” the attacks.
The report also accused Palestinian militants of apparent war crimes by launching more than 4,000 unguided rockets and mortars at Israeli population centers.
Such attacks, he said, violate “the prohibition on willful or indiscriminate attacks against civilians.”
The report, however, focused on Israeli actions during the fighting, and the group said it would issue a separate report on the actions of Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in August.
“Israeli forces carried out attacks in Gaza in May that devastated entire families with no apparent military targets nearby,” said Gerry Simpson, deputy director of crises and conflicts at HRW.
He said that Israel’s “constant reluctance to seriously investigate alleged war crimes”, coupled with Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilian areas, underscored the importance of an ongoing investigation of both sides by the International Criminal Court, or ICC.
The IDF has repeatedly stated that its attacks were aimed at military targets in Gaza. He says he takes many precautions to avoid harming civilians and accuses Hamas of civilian casualties by launching rocket attacks and other military operations inside residential areas.
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War erupted on May 10 after Hamas fired a rocket barrage at Jerusalem in support of Palestinian protests against Israel’s brutal police from the compound of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, built on a site contested sacred to Jews and Muslims, and the threat of eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers in a nearby neighborhood.
During the fighting, Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets and mortars at Israel, while Israel said it hit more than 1,000 targets it said were linked to militants in Gaza.
In total, some 254 people have been killed in Gaza, including at least 67 children and 39 women, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Hamas has acknowledged the deaths of 80 militants, while Israel has claimed the number is much higher. Twelve civilians, including two children, were killed in Israel, along with a soldier.
HRW’s report looked at the Israeli airstrikes. The most serious, on May 16, involved a series of strikes on Al-Wahda Street, a central thoroughfare in downtown Gaza.
The airstrikes destroyed three apartment buildings and killed a total of 44 civilians, HRW said, including 18 children and 14 women.
Twenty-two of the dead were members of the same family, the al-Kawlaks.
Israel said the attacks targeted tunnels used by Hamas militants in the area and the damage to the houses was unintentional.
In its investigation, HRW concluded that Israel had used US-made GBU-31 precision-guided bombs and that Israel had not warned any of the residents to evacuate the area in advance. He also found no evidence of military targets in the area.
“An attack which is not directed against a specific military objective is illegal,” he wrote.
The investigation also focused on a May 10 explosion that killed eight people, including six children, near the town of Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza.
He said the two adults were civilians. In a statement released on Tuesday, the IDF said the casualties were caused by rocket fire launched by militant groups, and not by Israeli airstrikes.
He posted aerial photos of what he said was the launch site, some 7.5 kilometers (4 miles) away and the landing zone.
“This incident demonstrates the blatant disregard for civilian life on the part of the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip,” he said. But based on an analysis of the ammunition remnants and eyewitness accounts, HRW said the evidence indicated the weapon was “a type of guided missile.”
“Human Rights Watch found no evidence of a military target on or near the strike site,” he said.
The New York-based group said Israel refused to allow its investigators to enter Gaza.
Instead, he said he relied on a Gaza-based field researcher, as well as satellite imagery, expert reviews of photos of ammunition fragments, and interviews conducted by video and phone. .
The third attack HRW investigated occurred on May 15, in which an Israeli airstrike destroyed a three-story building in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza.
The strike killed 10 people, including two women and eight children. HRW investigators determined the building was hit by a US-made guided missile.
He said Israel said senior Hamas officials were hiding in the building. But the group said there was no evidence of a military target at or near the site and called for an investigation to determine if there was a legitimate military target and “every possible precaution” has been taken. were taken to avoid civilian casualties.
The May conflict was the fourth war between Israel and Hamas since the militant Islamic group, which opposes Israel’s existence, seized control of Gaza in 2007.
Human Rights Watch, other rights groups, and UN officials have accused both sides of committing war crimes in all conflicts.